Canon XH-A1

The Canon XHA1 is the oldest professional or semi-professional gear that I own. The kit itself was built in early 2008 using the Rode NTG2 shotgun mic, Sennheiser EW100 ENG lavaliere and hand mic kit plus numerous lights / hot shoe kits, braces etc.

At the time this was a $7000 kit that I used extensively for freelance work. I could have saved $4000 and gone down the DV path but high definition was just coming into the mainstream markets and SD was going the way of the dinosaur.

My commercial Sony Betacam SX was a superior camera in terms of low light abilities and had better chroma depth but the XH-A1 blew it clean out of the water with resolution and detail. Anything shot in HD on the A1 which was down sampled to DV/480i killed any video shot in SD.

So at the time (circa 2008), it was well worth it to make the jump and this camera is still a wonderful tool!

Unfortunately, it remains a tape driven system predating mobile SD/CF SSD recording. The resulting tape driven HDV video is far less robust than DV and frame/video dropout is a real risk.

Since the Canon XH-A1 (first gen) remains a good versatile camera which I still use, breathing new life into the old tape driven system was a necessary function to avoid dropout and magnetic head wear.

The solution was to introduce a DTE firewire recorder. This solved the risk of tape dropout with blazing fast CF transfers, so no more real-time slow capturing or magnetic head wear.

The camera is now paired up with the Canon FS-CF Pro by Vitec for solid state recording and a Manfrotto MVH500A fluid head with the MVT502AM tripod body.

Demo video showing the system in use